So today, several friends posted a link on Facebook to an NPR blog talking about how parents need to be more honest about how tough parenting can be. The blogger wrote how you aren’t supposed to talk about how hard/miserable/mind-numbing parenting can be, but it’s time to start being more honest about things.
I don’t know who the author’s friends are, but he needs new ones.
He talked about how he had been visiting friends with newborns and how despite the dark circles and vacant stares, they wouldn’t admit to how exhausted they are and would only whimper out how cute their baby is while falling asleep in their coffee.
This would NEVER happen around me.
Look, I adore my kids. ADORE them. I truly think they are the greatest things on Earth. I think they are better than everyone else’s kids (sorry) and it is not possible for me to love anything more than I love them.
You will rarely hear me saying that, though. Or at least those exact words.
Anybody that knows me for more than 2 seconds can see how crazy I am about them. And anybody that knows me for 3 seconds will learn that they can drive me batty. And it’s not just because I’m a whiner (I am). It’s because parenting is freaking hard, kids are nuts and moms are tired and looking for sympathy.
If you were to look through my Facebook status updates for a year, I guarantee most of them would be some self-deprecating, weak attempt at humor in regards to some crazy behavior Declan is exhibiting or my lack of sleep since having Simon. This isn’t because I’m an overly negative person. I’m not. At all. I overshare this crap for several reasons. One, because all day long, I deal with the emotional roller coaster that is a 3 year old and a 6 month old, and I need to vent so I don’t die. Two, I need responses from other moms to make sure what I’m dealing with is normal. And three, because parents need each other.
I have always been honest about my feelings on pregnancy and parenting. I probably have scared a friend or two with this honesty, but I would much rather prepare them for the reality that is coming than yank their chain. There’s nothing worse than having a horrible day with your kid and then feeling like you are all alone in your misery. I think that by denying the tough times or glossing over them could actually lead to disaster.
Not too long ago, I was on the elliptical at the gym (AKA my therapy) when a nice lady whom I don’t know struck up a conversation with me. We were discussing how our gym time is our break from our kids, and how nice it is to work out and get a break, etc. She began kinda spilling her guts to me, which happens to me alot (I’m chatty, it brings out the chattiness in others. It’s a gift.), but she seemed the type to keep to herself more, so I was surprised. Anyway, she was telling me how she has kids with major age differences (17 down to 7 months) and how she is 42 and is having a hard time being a “new” mom again. At first, it was just general talk about sleepless nights and fussiness, but as she kept talking, my ears really perked up. She made it clear that she is in a very “old school” marriage, where she handles 90% of the child rearing while her husband works, plays golf, coaches, etc. She described how her youngest is high needs/clingy and how she never gets a break from her, how she stopped breastfeeding because it was all up to her to feed her, etc. I could tell she was completely brain dumping, so I was just smiling and nodding, with an occasional “I know, girl, I know!” Then she said “Do you ever just want to leave? Just pack up and go to an island? And never come back? I do. I wish I could.”
I was speechless. She meant what she said. If I had given her a ticket to Bora Bora right then, she would have grabbed her water bottle and hit the road for the airport. This woman was tired.
Through all her unloading on me, she kept throwing in sentences like “But she’s a really beautiful baby,” or “My (new) husband is so glad to have a daughter ” or “I’m really blessed, I know.” She was apologizing for her feelings, basically, which leads me to believe that she doesn’t have friends that tell the truth about parenting. She didn’t have anyone saying to her “ARE YOU FREE FOR MARGARITAS NOW????! BECAUSE I NEED ONE!” like I do. I’m glad to have friends that bitch about their kids. Because that’s how I know it’s normal to bitch about mine. I may need my girls’ nights out, and even my weekends away, but I have never wanted to run away and never come back.
So parents, tell the truth. Reach out to your friends. Gripe about your kids’ behavior. Talk about how horrible pregnancy is. Tell the horror stories. Not to scare anyone, but to normalize it. So that we can all realize we are in this together, and there’s no such thing as perfection.